A Regina community association is offering a retail experience without the cost.
A mannequin affectionately named Celine Dion greets customers as they walk into the brightly lit Second Chance Community Shop, which is filled with clothing of all sizes and colours without price tags.
The Al Ritchie Community Association relaunched the shop after it closed due to the pandemic, adding a free pantry beside it for shoppers.
The pantry offers everything from fruits and vegetables to hygiene products. There’s two fridges and a deep freeze, along with shelves for dry goods, toiletries, housewares and pet food.
“We know how much it helps people and, especially right now with everybody facing so much food insecurity, they really need that extra support,” said Carlee Binkley, the association’s program co-ordinator.
People can drop in, grab a shopping basket and visit the clothing bank or pantry, checking out at the front even though every item is free.
Binkley said the idea is to give people the feeling of shopping and make them comfortable while providing basic necessities.
“We don’t ask questions about your income or there’s no application process. If you are in need, you come here and you are welcome to be here,” said Katie Beck, Al Ritchie Community Association’s director of operations.
Busier every day
Volunteers Maria Belhumeur and Judy Wright say the shop gets about 10 to 20 people a day.
“Word is getting out there that we are open and we do have food,” said Belhumeur.
“It seems like when it rains, it pours. We’ll get a whole pile of donations [and the] next day, we’ll get a whole pile of people that will come and shop.”
One day a woman came in after her home had burned down. Belhumeur and Wright worked to ensure she had food, dishes and other kitchenware.
“It was a good feeling to see that she got what she needed. We had her come back like once a week after that,” said Belhumeur.
“I like to see the people leaving with a happy face and satisfied with what they’ve received.”
Wright started volunteering eight months ago and said she does it for her own sanity.
While it’s fulfilling to help those that come in, she also loves getting out of the house and meeting new people.
“One thing that I really like to see is we have people that come in and shop in our store and our pantry. And then the next week they’ll come in with a donation. Like it goes both ways with so many people,” said Wright.
Both Belhumeur and Wright say they are grateful for donations from the public, Giant Tiger and Petland, but that there is still need for more donations of all kinds, especially summer clothing and food.
“A lot of people come back and give us reviews just saying, ‘thank you for making me feel like a person.’ And that’s really why we do this. We want to give people what they need and also make them feel valued,” said Beck.
The Morning Edition – Sask7:35‘If you are in need, you come here’: Clothing, food, housewares free at Regina community shop and pantry